John Oliver Explains Why Paid Maternity Leave Is Such a Joke – for Us (VIDEO)

john oliverHow was your Mother's Day? Enjoy a lovely afternoon with your family? Maybe had breakfast in bed, opening handmade cards, surrounded by your children? Well, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver has a special message just for us that will make your Mother's Day flowers wilt: "In America, there is nothing we wouldn't do for our moms ... apart from one major thing."


America is one of only two nations that has no mandated paid maternity leave. 

No mandated paid family leave here or in Papua New Guinea.

You probably know this already, but here in America the Family Leave Act entitles you to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave -- we can recover from giving birth and bond with our babies for 12 weeks and still expect to return to the same job, or at least an equal job (however your employer grudgingly defines that). 

You just have to make sure you comply with these no-big-deal conditions:

1. You have to work in a company with at least 50 employees.

2. You have to have been on the job for at least a year.

3. You have to be a full-time salaried employee.

So that's most of us, right? HA HA! That depends on how you define "most." Actually, 40 percent of workers are not covered by the Family Leave Act. And even fewer make use of that leave because, as we all know, that leave is usually partially or completely unpaid. 

There was a lot of whining from legislators about how much the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act would KILL American businesses. And when it passed?

family leave act

Oh, I guess we survived.

But PAID leave, that's another thing. That would be going too far! I mean, look at what happened in 2002 when California mandated six weeks of partially-paid parental leave that cost employers little to nothing.

More than 90 percent of businesses reported either positive or at worst neutral effects.

paid parental leave like a hockey game

Oliver compares it with having a hockey game on in the background at a bar. "It's not hurting anyone. And a couple of people are actually really into it!" And yet only two other states have followed California's lead: New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, what happened when Minnesota tried to expand its unpaid parental leave laws? Well, before we get to that, Oliver makes us watch a montage of Minnesota state senators thanking all mothers.

minnesota senators

All of these men thanked Minnesota mothers by voting against that parental leave bill.

"You can't have it both ways. You can't go on and on about how much you love mothers and then fail to support legislation that makes life easier for them," Oliver says. And if we're going to do that, then this is the only message we should be able to give moms on Mother's Day.

get the f back to work


get back to wokr

Unless you can personally afford to take take the time off you want, we're going to need you to get your exhausted ass back to work and show us that can-do attitude that moms are famous for.

mom sitting on donut cushion

We'd do anything for our moms!

Up to, but not including, paying them to stay home for a while after pushing a human being out of their body.

baby in desk drawer

Look at you, Super Mom! Taking care of everyone. Because remember: Not only can you balance work and family, you have to.

mother's day special

What we're saying is, you deserve the very best, moms. You're just not going to get it. Happy Mother's Day!

Did you know that in 183 other countries around the world women are legally entitled to paid maternity leave? 


Image via Last Week Tonight With John Oliver/YouTube


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